Joint statement urges the UN to ensure robust commitments to access to information, media freedom, and public-interest journalism in the Pact for the Future

5th June 2024
The Public Media Alliance has joined 40 civil society organisations – led by the GFMD – to urge the United Nations (UN) and its Member States to ensure robust commitments to access to information, media freedom, and public-interest journalism as they negotiate the final text of the Pact for the Future in advance of the Summit of the Future in September.
The UN flag and some national flags fly outside the UN HQ in New York.
Flags at United Nations Headquarters. Credit: Diego Grandi /

This statement was originally published on GFMD. Sign the statement and join in advocating for a future where media freedom is safeguarded, journalists are protected, and access to information is upheld as a fundamental right.

The Summit of the Future is a high-level event billed as a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity that seeks to reaffirm existing Member State commitments, including the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 2030 Agenda, as well as address challenges such as extreme poverty, climate change, and new technologies. The Pact for the Future is the Summit’s primary outcome document, intending to boost the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals as the roadmap for overcoming crises and securing a better future for all.

GFMD and the undersigned organisations welcome the May 14 revision of the Pact following the zero draft, including strengthened attention to the Sustainable Development Goals throughout the document as well as Action 42’s strong language on human rights. We particularly applaud the new explicit reference to protecting civic space (Action 11); a commitment to protecting journalists and media during armed conflict (Action 12); and the inclusion of respecting the right to freedom of expression while addressing disinformation and misinformation (Action 15).

Given both the severity of challenges facing media and journalists around the world, which in many contexts nears an extinction-level event, and the utmost importance of access to information and freedom of expression in empowering people to address shared needs, we call on the UN and Member States to further strengthen their commitments, in line with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the General Comment on Article 19: freedoms of opinion and expression; the 1991 Windhoek Declaration; and the 2021 Windhoek+30 Declaration: Information as Public Good, and in fulfilment of target 16.10 of the Sustainable Development Goals (ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms).

As underscored in a joint statement by the Presidents of the UN General Assembly, the General Conference of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and the UN Human Rights Council on World Press Freedom Day 2024: “the media’s role as a watchdog, and a catalyst for action cannot be overstated.”

“Access to accurate and timely information, enabled by a free, independent, and pluralistic media, stands as a cornerstone for raising public awareness, fostering informed debate and decision-making, countering misinformation and disinformation, and ultimately galvanizing collective action towards the attainment of the Goals, in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development… As we navigate the final years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we call on Member States and all stakeholders to reaffirm their commitments to the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and access to information.”

We therefore urge the UN and Member States to incorporate the following language into the Pact for the Future:

In the Chapeau include: We affirm that access to information, freedom of expression and media freedom, including the safety of journalists, the vibrancy and viability of public interest media, and the resilience of a healthy, autonomous information ecosystem, are fundamental for advancing the entirety of the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Under Action 5 add: “access to information” after “access to justice”. Under paragraph 7(a) add “media freedom” after “rule of law”.

Under Action 11(b) add “access to information, especially in times of crisis”.

Under Action 15(e) add “and strengthening healthy and resilient information ecosystems, including public interest media and journalism”.

Under Action 24(b) add “access to information” before “the delivery of essential public services”.

Under Action 28 add new point (d): “Guarantee that technology companies are subject to appropriate and independent scrutiny mechanisms to ensure the transparency and accountability of their systems and respect for human rights, including freedom of expression and access to information.

Under Action 42, paragraph 52 add “including journalists and activists” after “Human Rights Defenders.

Under Action 51, paragraph 62 add “Promote and protect media freedom and public-interest journalism, as no crisis or challenge – whether health, climate, economic, political, or humanitarian – can be addressed without access to reliable information and information integrity at its core.

Incorporating the recommended language above will help ensure that the Pact for the Future reinforces existing commitments on access to information and media freedom and empowers public-interest journalism and resilient information ecosystems to play their vital role in delivering on the promise of a better future for all.

As UN Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted in his message for World Press Freedom Day: “Without press freedom, we won’t have any freedom.  A free press is not a choice, but a necessity.


  1. 2402 Foundation
  2. Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC)
  3. Agencia Mural de Jornalismo das Periferias
  4. Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)
  5. Association for Media Development In South Sudan (AMDISS)
  6. Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM)
  7. Beam Reports
  8. Centre for Law and Democracy
  9. Centre for Media Freedom (Morocco)
  10. Commonwealth Journalists Association
  11. Community Media Network
  12. Daily Nawa-I-AhmedPurSharqia (Pakistan)
  13. Daily Rozan Gujrat (Pakistan)
  14. DW Akademie
  15. European Journalism Centre
  16. Fondation Hirondelle
  17. Forum on Information and Democracy
  18. Free Press Unlimited
  19. Freedom Forum
  20. Freedom of Expression Institute
  21. Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP)
  22. Gambia Press Union (GPU)
  23. Gender and Media Connect
  24. GIBS Media Leadership Think Tank
  25. Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
  26. Group Siyabonga Gold
  27. Home News Agency
  28. Human Rights Network for Journalists (Uganda)
  29. Internews
  30. Maharat Foundation
  31. Media Foundation for West Africa
  32. Mizzima Media
  33. Public Media Alliance (PMA)
  34. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  35. Rural Media Network Pakistan
  36. SAARC Journalist Forum
  37. SembraMedia
  38. South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
  40. World Association for Christian Communication (WACC)